July 27, 2010

Prince Edward Island

Driving onto the ferry to cross over Northumberland Strait.

Esperando and I spent this past weekend visiting The Storyteller, an old friend, who lives on Prince Edward Island in the Canadian Maritimes (that includes Nova Scotia and New Brunswick as well). We journeyed from San Francisco to JFK Airport changing planes to Halifax, Nova Scotia and arriving late. We spent the night in Halifax and traveled several hours to the car ferry crossing the Northumberland Strait.

Mystery sandwich with pink filling finally revealed to be lobster. Yum!

While standing in line at the little cafeteria on board the ferry I tried to decide what my lunch would be and settled on one of those simple pre-made white bread sandwiches in a clear plastic container that you are bound to find in that kind of place. Looking at the condensated bin door I tried to visually decifer what my sandwich choices were since the sign listing menu items was posted in such a way that the line of hungry diners was blocking it from view. I could see egg salad and chicken, but a third option with a pink filling didn’t register. Finally I realized that option was lobster, oh my, oh my! I had to have lobster and every bite was delicious.

Gourmet Magazine pick, the Queen Street Meat Market in the capital Charlottetown. Here is the local butcher with a pretty big lobster.

Prince Edward Island (PEI) is known for the fictional heroine Anne of Green Gables created by the author Lucy Maud Montgomery who wrote about her and the Green Gables house, a real house that the novelist placed her in and built 16 novels around her life there. Although most tourists come for Anne of Green Gables, we didn’t spend much time on her as we were busy touring and investigating other well known island phenomenon such as the fabulous lobsters, Malpeque oysters, scallops and mussels—as well as PEI potatoes in various forms. If you go to McDonalds here you can get a McLobster sandwich and not to be outdone, the local Subway Sandwich store also features a lobster sandwich too. Only in PEI can you live and breathe lobster at a reasonable price. Yes, I had arrived in lobster land where the roads are lined with lobster traps and the lobster sells for $8/pound. Esperando and I struggled to down several dozen oysters and wondered if we’d died and gone to heaven. I was ready to move.

Tidy countryside and carefully manicured small farms. This is the Storyteller's 1888 home from across the vale.

The island dates back to earliest occupation by the French in 1605 when it was known as Acadia. It remained in French hands until 1755 when the British drove the French out to New Orleans at the culmination of the French and Indian wars with the Peace of Utrecht. These days PEI is a rolling hilly country richly patchworked with fields of potatoes, alfalfa and waterways. It is littered with lovely old farmhouses set in tidy gardens with expansive mowed green lawns,scenic fishermen’s huts flaunting fishing boats and lobster traps with a nautical New England air, and old clapboard churches with graveyards and one room schoolhouses.

Row of early colonial homes in historic Charlottetown